You've heard the saying, “if you don't use it, lose it”, right?
The brain is just like a muscle in our body – it can atrophy (shrink) if we don't use it.
The brain craves complexity. It was designed to produce movement, and yet as a society, we are completely sedentary. There is no reward to sedentary, lifeless, repetitive movements. So much of what we do as human beings is subconscious because we don't need to think about it. We continue using the same old motor patterns, such as going to the gym and doing the same exercises time after time. Unfortunately, the brain gets bored. It craves complexity and new refined movements.
You have to constantly switch things up and stimulate your brain in new ways to keep it healthy.
The term "digital dementia" isn't a joke – our brains literally are getting smaller in size because we are not using them the way we once used to... all because technology has replaced our brain.
Technology stores our contacts and phone numbers, it calculates difficult math equations, it reminds us of appointments, and it even reads to us.
If your daily routine requires you to be sedentary, or your preferred form of entertainment is from technology, then you should consider making changes to prevent the onset of “digital dementia”.
Here's what you can start doing today:
Reduce screen time and increase play time: This recommendation isn't just for kids – it's for adults too. The act of playing, especially outdoors, activates your sensory and motor cortex from movement and tactile sensation. As you are running around, jumping up and down, and swinging back and forth, you are developing fine motor pathways and stimulating your vestibular system for better posture and balance. Play is not only important for the development of children, but also for the maintenance of health of adults and the elderly.
Use your head: Retrieve information from your brain organically – whether it's a phone number of the name of that actress you can't remember...rather than automatically turning to Google to look it up, sit there and concentrate until you can recall it.
Read a real book, not a kindle: That’s right. Reading an actual book rather than a tablet has been shown to improve memory retention and is better for your eyes. Too much screen time has been shown to cause headaches, migraines, dizziness, and other health problems.
Learn a new language: Putting you outside your comfort zone helps your brain work harder, which makes you smarter and requires you to recall the new words that you recently learned.
Play a new instrument: Instruments require the use of both sides of the brain – like the piano or the guitar, for example, which help strengthen and balance your brain.
Get physical: Physical exercise increases blood flow and accelerates the transport of vital nutrients to your brain.
Perform your brain-based postural exercises: Your posture is affected by every impulse that arrives at your brain and leaves from your brain. When you perform your brain-based exercises that I recommended after your first visit, you are literally rewiring your brain, which changes how your body resists gravity and maintains an upright posture, as well as corrects your musculoskeletal problem. Every musculoskeletal problem is at some level a neurological problem, which starts in your brain.
Essentially, we need to be doing anything that can lead to the healthy restructuring or ‘rewiring’ of our brains. We need to be spending less time relying on technology and more time relying on our brain power.
Although you can probably afford to reduce your daily screen time, it's not realistic to throw out your smartphone altogether. What's more important is correcting your posture while using technology.
Your posture is the structural framework of your body. A weak posture means a lower functioning brain.
Here are some posture tips for you to consider while at work or at home when you're cruising on social media:
Hold your phone at eye level to avoid stressing your neck by looking down at your phone to send a text message
Pull your shoulders and head back while seated at a computer. Your head should be over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips, with your feet flat on the ground.
Don't place your laptop on your lap which forces you to look down at it to use it.
Try to avoid rounding your spine forward to read on your kindle or ipad.
Start out by challenging yourself to unplug from technology 1 day per month, followed by 2 days per month, followed by 1 day every weekend.
Work can wait... facebook can wait. If you choose to focus more on having real conversations, reading real books, spending time in nature, and letting your inner child come out to play, you'll be taking care of your brain health and your emotional health as well.